You may have seen the Instagram photo of the former Florida State University Pi Kappa Phi brothers dressed in “Mexican” ponchos and sombreros. Caption? “We don’t pay cover or taxes.” Twitter and Facebook didn’t take kindly to it.
Now it is to my current understanding that there is no cultural monopoly on Mexicans with ponchos (perhaps more so for sombreros), so I’m really going off what is implied by the photo. Anyhow, my guess is that the finer nuances of Central- and South American dress was lost upon these young lads, and their deepest cultural experience involving Mexico is a nice, cold Dos Equis.
First off, that’s pretty nasty and unbecoming of one’s self, but I think everyone already knows that or doesn’t believe so. I just have to say it though.
Second, poking through the tweets and the Facebook comments, I noticed there was a lot of snide aimed at FSU. You know, the usual “you can’t expect much from FSU” sort of things. Some of those came from random folks on the internet, while some of those came from people at UF. Immediately, my mind jumped to another image: It’s a similar photo of a festive gathering that was posted in 2016: mustaches, ponchos and sombreros, but this time, at UF. Other than the difference in fraternity, school and the fact that it was a Facebook cover photo (even worse!), the photos seem pretty darn similar. I just don’t remember any particular outrage when this photo was posted in 2016.
A lot of it can be attributed to the crude caption accompanying the FSU photo and also lingering anger at the former brothers since their chapter was the one involved with the recent death of a pledge in 2017. The UF photo may have never taken off since the one who posted it may not have had a wide circle of friends at the time. But still, both are bad and eerily similar to each other.
But Zach, you might say, “Why are you writing about this? Don’t you do your whining about Student Government?” “True!” I say to you; here’s where it gets interesting.
You see, the person who posted the FSU photo is a member of their Student Government Senate. The guy who posted the UF version was a senator and now serves as an agency head; in fact, he is the one who runs SG’s social media agency (Action SG) so that is some really great irony right there.
But wait, there’s more! There’s been no shortage of organizations out there condemning the photo. One of them is the Florida Latinx Hispanic American Student Union. The president, Dylan Santalo, is also a former UF senator and current Chomp the Vote agency head. He actually voted for the Action SG head’s confirmation back in April. I wonder if he knew about the photo when he voted (I mean, it was a cover photo, after all). I wonder if it would have made a difference (the objection to the candidate was instead due to the perception of the candidate’s lack of relevant qualifications, but that doesn’t really bother people in the majority party).
So let me get this straight: A senator at FSU posts a disgraceful photo and gets criticized by someone who also happens to be an SG official at UF who, earlier this year, voted to promote another UF senator who posted a just-as-disgraceful photo. Weird stuff. I’m not making any charges of hypocrisy right here, just irony, since who really could have seen any of this happening? Hindsight is 20/20 and there’s a lot of “hind” to go around at UF SG.
So yeah, I don’t really think UF has any sort of moral superiority in this case while we’re roasting FSU. I am reminded of the credits of the popular movie “Dear White People,” which featured different schools that had blackface incidents. UF was the second school to pop up with a photo of an incident from 2012 (and we wonder why black people don’t feel welcome at UF).
So yeah, happy holidays, everyone! See y’all next year!
Zachariah Chou is a UF political science junior and Murphree Area Senator. His column normally appears on Fridays.